Email Applied: A (Big) Piece of the Puzzle
There's a lot of talk about omnichannel and multichannel marketing these days. I read an interesting distinction drawn between the two by John Bowden, senior vice president of customer care, Time Warner Cable. He said multichannel is more internally focused and operational in nature, since the marketer is defining and using channels to reach the customer. Omnichannel looks at the experience through the eyes of the customer. It expects customers may start in one channel and move to another, and the marketer's challenge is to make the journey as seamless, consistent and integrated as possible for that individual.
That's a lofty prelude to addressing how email and other channels can work in tandem. You've learned that 1 + 1 = 2, but that's not really the case when you effectively reach out to customers during their journey with you. When done right, 1 + 1 will equal much more than two. It makes ultimate sense to leverage email and other channels to drive business. Let's look at some ways you can do this.
Use Social Media to Collect Opt-In Email Addresses
Those who follow your brand on social media are certainly involved with your company. They may even be more avid than your site visitors. Therefore, promote your email program to them. Consider some of the following examples:
- Chico's, the women's apparel and accessories retailer, gives 10 percent off the next purchase for those who sign up for its email program on Facebook. It also runs contests and promotions on Facebook and Twitter. To enter, one must provide an email address and give opt-in permission. Chico's website also promotes the sign-up offer both with a pop-up ad that appears when one first visits the site and again on the homepage.
- Papa John's Pizza promotes its rewards program on Facebook. The registration page collects name and address information, opts registrants into the company's email program and also collects mobile information to send automated calls and text messages. The rewards program is also promoted on a navigation tab on Papa John's website.
- Bed Bath & Beyond provides a 20 percent discount on one purchase. The registration form collects full name and address information, and provides several options. Interested individuals can opt into email news and promotional offers, circulars and postcards via direct mail. The form also provides instructions and a short code so that individuals can sign up for mobile text alerts. The retailer's website has a similar page accessed from the top navigation toolbar.
Furthermore, some retailers have in-store kiosks or tablets that allow shoppers to sign up for their email programs. The usual enticement is a discount offer.
Leverage Your Email Campaigns to Create Synergies With Other Channels
There are a myriad of opportunities here; you just need to be creative. Here are some ideas that you might apply to your business:
- Send an email pre-announcing a catalog or direct mailing to those names on your housefile scheduled to receive the drop. My favorite way to do this is to include a picture of the front cover or outer envelope in the email as well as some enticement for the recipient to look forward to. Consumers suffer from email inbox clutter, but the same holds true for physical mailbox clutter. This tactic will grab attention and mindshare. And don't forget social. If there's a special angle or new product line you're introducing, use all the channels at your disposal.
- Another way to support a direct mail campaign is to send a follow-up email to your housefile after the mailing was received in-home. Brooks Brothers did this and would also feature its most recent catalog front page prominently on its website and in emails timed for when the catalog was received. In addition, the retailer took the opportunity in its emails over the next two weeks to call out specific items featured on the interior pages of the catalog.
- If you have a mobile app, it's important to get the word out. I've received many emails from companies promoting their app and explaining its benefits. Best-in-class marketers are using responsive design and doing additional tracking. They know I have an Android phone and the email promotes their app tailored for my phone, with a link to the appropriate app store.
- The holidays are past, but you all have busy customers who may be averse to paying shipping-and-handling charges. Allow customers to buy online and pick up in-store. This works particularly well for Black Friday and other significant holiday shopping dates, but "order ahead and skip the line" is a compelling proposition for many at all times of the year.
- This is a unique promotion, but perhaps you can learn from it. RedBox, the video rental business, wanted to build its SMS mobile list. The company's challenge: it has a physical presence with its ubiquitous red kiosks, but it doesn't have staff at these locations. The promotion was called "Ten Days of Deals." There were stickers on each point-of-sale location, it was promoted on Facebook to RedBox's followers, it was tweeted, the company did in-app messaging for its mobile customers, and it sent an email to its millions and millions of opted-in subscribers. That's an integrated campaign! Oh, RedBox was pleased with the results.
Remember the days when all we had to worry about was one channel? Those days are long gone! Today, to succeed in our complex omnichannel world, you have to be in front of consumers at the right time, in the right place, with the right offer. Yes, it's a very complex world out there, but if you're up to the challenge it can pay great dividends.